In a job market increasingly geared toward temporary or contract help, tilr helps bridge the gap

CINCINNATI — A year ago, Forbes magazine reported that an eye-opening 40 percent of American workers are “contingent” workers — in other words, agency temps, freelancers, on-call help, independent contractors or others who lack a secure job.

These are the employees that tilr was formed to represent and find work for. It’s the first digital, on-demand marketplace for jobs, said chief operating officer Summer Crenshaw.

“Clients are calling us the Uber of jobs,” she added.

How Does It Work?

Individuals download the tilr app, which just became available from the Apple store July 11. It inventories their skill set and gathers data on their availability.

Summer Crenshaw, co-founder of tilr.

Carisa Miklusak, co-founder of tilr.

Then a tilr employee does a phone interview, asking traditional HR questions to ensure tilr has the complete story. After a background check, the applicant’s profile is put into the system.

Employers create profiles for the companies on tilr’s website, then post the skills required for the positions they need filled. Tilr’s proprietary algorithm matches employee with employer.

It’s a unique system because it places workers according to their skills, Crenshaw said, rather than by the job titles they’ve held.

For employers, it’s intended to remove the onus of finding and screening employees and to speed up the hiring process.

Who Created tilr?

Two of the co-founders, Crenshaw and Carisa Miklusak, met in 2003 when Miklusak hired Miami University grad Crenshaw to work in the Cincinnati office of CareerBuilder.com. They have worked together off and on ever since, including for Miklusak’s marketing company in New York City, Tmedia.

Last summer,  a Canadian investor approached them with an idea for an app for farmers, who often have an immediate but temporary need for workers. Miklusak and Crenshaw felt the idea would work for other industries. So the Canadian and his investing partner brought to the table Luke Vigeant as chief technology officer, and together the five founded tilr.

The name’s intended to remind readers of the tiller of a boat, which changes its direction the same way that tilr can change the direction of a career, Crenshaw said.

How Does tilr Make Money?

Employers pay a percentage based on what they pay each worker hired through tilr. Crenshaw declined to disclose revenue figures.

But hundreds of workers have signed up in the limited time the app has been available, she said. And the company, which now employs seven full-time workers, plans to hire an additional 11 over the next few weeks.

Who’s Using tilr?

The early adopters have been seasonal workers, such as teachers, who want to work at something else during the summer, Miklusak said; and also, Baby Boomers who don’t work full time but who aren’t in a position to retire.

Employers signing up have been those that experience crucial labor shortages with little notice, such as restaurateurs, she said. Also, businesses with seasonal needs, such as for sales people during the holidays.

What Other Benefits Do Workers Get?

Tilr partners with Independence, Kentucky-based Cengage Learning to offer skills training for its users. Also, starting Jan. 1, tilr plans to offer health insurance to its users through Anthem Inc.

The company is also working creating a savings plan similar to a 401(k), Crenshaw said.

The idea is to provide contingent workers with the same opportunities enjoyed by workers who receive a W-2 form, Crenshaw said.

What’s Been Surprising?

The rapid growth of the company. That’s indicative of a marketplace eager for change, Crenshaw said. “We haven’t seen a major transformation (in the job market) since the job posting on the Internet,” she said.

What’s Next?

Having launched tilr in Cincinnati, the founders are looking to launch it in more cities where they see a lot of demand, Crenshaw said.

“We’ll be looking to move across the United States in the next three years … and also launch in Canada,” she said. “We do feel we will be a global organization.”

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